Making More From Your Patterns – A Woven Peaseblossom

 

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Hark! I can hear the sewing machine calling!

I wanted to have a section on our blog that shows you how adaptable our pattern really are and to help with some suggestions as to the alterations and adaptations you can make at home.

After overhauling my wardrobe and clearing out what I don’t ACTUALLY wear I have focussed my mind on to the shapes and styles that I do wear more of and one is a boxy top that I can wear with jeans or wide trousers – otherwise known as a Peasblossom!

This is one of my favourites to make up in different fabrics. Now Peaseblossom is normally known as the draped or cowl neck top, but Version 2 of the pattern is just a round necked style.

My absolute favourite fabric is the laundered linen we have in the store, so what better combination!  Peaseblossom in linen!

 

A Bit of Pattern Hacking…

I did alter the pattern slightly as I wanted the top to be a more comfortable fit over my hips but not too big across my shoulders and around the neck as there will be no stretch in the fabric I’ve chosen for this project.

So I cut the size up from what I would normally cut – to make it roomier over the hips. But I closed the neckline slightly to make it a bit higher – I wanted it to have more of a traditional T shirt look.

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I then drew on a box pleat 2cm wide at the centre front and back to take the shoulders back down to my usual size. This would be made into an inverted box pleat.

The top needed a bit more interest at the hem so I decided to add a bit extra on to the hem to make it deeper and included a side split. The split needed a facing to neaten it off so that led me into thinking of including mitred corners. They give a neat and clean finish to corners on hems and look great if they are top-stitched as well. So I had to add a bit extra onto the pattern at the side seams as well.

 

This is what I did…

  • Drew on the original hem line
  • Added an extra 5cm on from the hem line
  • Drew on the side seam allowance
  • Added an extra 5cm onto the side from the seam line
  • Marked the split to end about 8cm or 3” from the finished hemlineWoven T pattern hack spilt.jpg

 

I wanted to sew the hem by top stitching 4cm away from the finished edge to give a border to the hem and split, I thought it would look quite neat to have the split sewn with a gable (or point) above it. So I drew on the top-stitching line and created a gable over the split so the point of the gable was 4cm above the end of the split. I could then trim off the excess paper to give me the shape I needed.

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Now For a Bit of Cutting Out…

That was the pattern alterations done so it needed cutting out and making up.

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Ooops! Missed the timer!

The centre front and centre back went on the fold of the fabric and as there were only 2 pieces, that was pretty darn quick!

 

And a Bit of Sewing At Last!

Basic Construction

Stitch down the inverted box pleat by 5cm on both the centre front and centre back 2cm away from the fold.

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Open out the pleat and press into place. Sew/baste across the top of the pleat to hold it in place. (Not shown because I forget to take a picture! Oops!)

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Neaten the side seams and hems on both front and back separately.

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Sew the shoulder seams and neaten.

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Sew down the side seams to the end of the split and press open.

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Hem and Split

Then I constructed the mitred corners and you can follow our tutorial on How to Sew Mitred Corners to do this.

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Once the corners were completed I gave myself some guidelines for the top-stitching. I started at the top of one of the split gables so it wouldn’t notice too much.

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The hem and splits once sewn need a really good press – use a pressing cloth and plenty of steam if you need to.

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Neckband

Although the body of the top is a woven fabric I wanted to use something with stretch around the neck and cuffs. Luckily I had a bit of navy bamboo viscose jersey in my stash that would do nicely.

Because I had raised the neckline I needed to re-measure it to work out the length of the neckband. I’ve only shown measuring halfway around the neck in the image as it’s easier to do this then double the measurement, rather than to try and accurately measure all the way around.

Mark on the seam allowance around the neckline. Then measure out from the seam line the width you wanted for the neckband, I’ve used 2cm here.

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Then I measured around the neckline 2cm away from the seamline. This will be the length of the neckband.

If you think about concentric circles we want the inside finished edge of the neck band to sit flat against the body and then the raw edges of it to stretch out to fit the woven edge of the neckline. So that’s why the neckband is shorter than the actual neckline.

The strips of neck band and cuffs are sewn across the short edges to create a circle and then pressed in half to create the double layer.

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I have found the best way to sew on the neckband is to match up the centre backs and centre fronts on both the neckband and neckline and pin those with the right sides together.

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Then I use my little fingers and ring fingers to stretch out the neckband and hold it in place while my other fingers and thumbs manipulate the fabric and neckband into position.

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It can be a bit tricky at first, but it’s all just practice.

Overlock or machine stitch around the neckline. You can see from the image is that the inside edge is flat and the outer edge of the neckband is stretched out to fit the neckline. You can use the same method for attaching the cuffs.

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To keep it all neat and tidy I used a twin needle to topstitch around the neckline through the woven fabric and seam allowance.

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Give the neckband a gentle press to steam it into place if it’s stretched out a little bit in the sewing.

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I was really pleased with the way this particular hack turned out, and I’m planning another one already.

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Here Are Some of the Details…

This is a very straightforward Pattern Hack to achieve and I hope it shows how easy it is to adapt a pretty simple pattern to include a few interesting details.

If you decide to have a go let me know how you get on.

Jules x

Bianca Coat Tutorial

Bianca Coat large size jpegs web quality -8666Out lovely new pattern Bianca is so quick and easy to make up, but during the workshops we run one of the issues that crops up constantly is how to sew across the back of the neck with the overlocker.

So I thought I would create this tutorial to help you sew your own Bianca Coat with an overlocker. This tutorial focuses on the method we use in the workshop constructing and edging with an overlocker, (you will need a normal machine for some bits – but not many!)

Of course you can also use a normal machine to construct the coat as well and then either leave the edges raw or finish them with a different stitch, zigzag or mock overlock would look great.

Prep

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This is what you’ll need:

2.5m of fabric

Matching or contrasting overlocker threads

Matching or contrasting threads on your sewing machine

Pins

Scissors

Tape measure
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I can be a bit of a control freak when it comes to patterns and I really like mine to lay flat on the fabric so I iron them first. Sounds daft I know, but just set your iron to a low temperature with no steam and give them the once over. Simple! And it allows the pattern pieces to sit flat allowing you to cut more accurately too.

Cut

To make following the layplan a little easier I usually cut off enough fabric for the front piece first.

**Make sure that you have enough fabric

overall before cutting anything!!**

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Then I fold over just enough fabric to create a double layer for the back piece to sit on the fold. Measure both ends of the folded over section to make sure it is parallel to the selvedge, otherwise the back panel will be ‘off grain’.

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Lay out the rest of the pattern pieces, pin and cut them out.

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Remember to transfer all the pattern markings onto your fabric. The notches I mark with a small – I mean SMALL snip. You can use chalk or marker pen to mark in the small dots at the neckline.

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Make

Neaten the edges of the pocket pieces – but leave the edges with the notches unfinished.

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You can see from the image that there is a slight slope to the outer edges of the pocket pieces. The wider edge is at the bottom. So this should help to get the pockets the correct way up if you are using a patterned fabric.

This video show a neat way to overlock around corners.

Lay the pocket pieces onto the right side of the coat fronts aligning the notches on the side seam and pocket.

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Sew around the front edge and bottom of the pocket making sure to leave the top edge open otherwise you will have a patch – not a pocket! (I can’t tell you how many times I have done this myself!)

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Baste the edges together at the side seams to hold the pockets in place.

Staystitch around the collar and neckline on the coat fronts, pivoting at the small dot.

Blanket Coat Tutorial-39You only need to sew 2 or 3 cm either side of the dot.

Place the coat fronts with the WRONG SIDES together and sew down the centre back of the collar.

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Snip in towards the dot, making sure not to cut through your stitching.

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Attaching the collar can be a little confusing so I place the coat back with the right side up in front of me…

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…then place the coat fronts on top of the back, also with the right sides up.

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Then I fold down the collar so the back necklines match up and flip out the shoulder seams so the shoulder points line up.

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The snips into the front neckline will open out so the base of the snips should now sit on top of the small dots on the corners of the back neck and shoulder line. 

Here is a quick video to show you what I mean.

Only use the bare minimum of pins to hold the corners in place. Pins and overlockers DO NOT go together and the best way is to use your fingers as pins and hold in place small sections of fabric as you sew.

You can now sew along the first shoulder line, over the snip and corner, across the back neck, over the second snip and corner and finish along the second shoulder all in one seam.

So you should get a corner that looks a bit like this.

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If you do get a little hole you can always go back over it again either with the overlocker or on the sewing machine.

That is the tricky bit done!

It is easier to hem the sleeve now while it’s flat so zip across the cuff with the overlocker or sewing machine.

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The sleeves sew in flat, which means the notch at the sleeve head matches up with the shoulder seam and the single and double notches on the sleeve match up with those on the back and front of the coat.

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Sew across the sleeve head easing the fabric in as you go.

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With the right sides of the coat together match up the cuff, armhole seam and hem. You can clip or pin these together to hold them in place.

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To help with the bulkiness at the armhole seam, push one seam one way and the other in the opposite direction. This will help the machine or overlocker sew over the bulk of the seams.

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Sew all the way from cuff to hem, sewing across the armhole seams.

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Finish

Now the construction of the coat is complete you can either leave it raw edged or sew all the way around the edge with the overlocker or an alternative stitch on the sewing machine.

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We have lots of fabric and colour combinations used in our workshops and I have to say that a contrasting thread around the edge provides a real ‘pop’ of colour and can look amazing!

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But I’ve just stuck to grey!

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A Few More Bianca Coats

The Bianca Coat or the Blanket coat, has been a workshop we have run for a while now and we have been consistently asked if we were making it into a pattern. So due to popular demand we have now released it.

You Can Order Yours Now Too

You can see some of the versions our wonderful pattern testers have made.

Fabrics have ranged from double jersey to wool coating…

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…with a bit of boiled wool and scuba jersey thrown in too.

Some have been left raw edged, and some overlocked…

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…and others with beautifully bound edges.

The creativity and different approaches never fail to amaze me when other dressmakers put their stamp on our patterns. After all making something personal and individual to you is part and parcel of sewing a handmade wardrobe.

I hope you decide to give the Bianca Coat a go, it really is quick and easy to make up. this is what some of our Testers had to say…

The coatigan was a dream to make. The instructions were very clear and easy to follow, especially with the added diagrams. I really liked the fact that the pattern instructions contained a glossary this was really beneficial. I am not a very confident sewer but thanks to your pattern and instructions I feel on top of the world with the garment I have made, thank you.” Judith

Great coatigan pattern, swift make, could be pimped to make your own style, with different trimings, thread choices. Loved it on first try on. This is the 3rd pattern I have used of yours.”  Helen

A simple and quick pattern to make with lovely results.” Charlotte

Clear concise instructions. One of the easiest garments I’ve made.” Angela

I really enjoyed making the Bianca Coat. The instructions are clearly laid out, the pattern pieces fit together easily and the coat fronts have been cleverly designed to produce a lovely waterfall effect.” Janet

You can order your Bianca Coat as a

Paper version HERE

or as a

PDF version HERE

Meet Bianca – Our Latest Pattern

We would like to introduce you to our latest pattern…

The Bianca Coat

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This is a another relaxed and easy shape to wear.  The loose fit ‘coatigan’ has a dropped shoulder line to add ease and comfort.

Waterfall Collar, Turnback Cuffs and Pockets – of course!

The waterfall collar softens the neckline and frames the face. And the turn back cuffs echo the glimpse of reverse fabric revealed by the fall of the collar. And of course no coat would be complete without handy pockets to keep your hands warm in.

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Easy to Make

The Bianca Coat is very easy to put together using either a normal sewing machine to give a raw edge finish or you can use an overlocker to neaten and give a semi finished edge. It looks fantastic using contrasting coloured thread too.

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Great for Beginners

As you can see from the tester’s comments the pattern comes together very quickly and could easily be made in an afternoon.

We have run this as a workshop and have released it as a pattern due to popular demand. It is just the garment for the change in seasons and although we are heading into Spring it is still chilly enough to need an extra layer.

The coat requires about 2.5m of 150cm wide fabric and it works well in boiled wool, double Jersey, scuba and wool suiting.

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Here are just a few of the comments from our pattern testers…

“The coatigan was a dream to make. The instructions were very clear and easy to follow, especially with the added diagrams. I really liked the fact that the pattern instructions contained a glossary this was really beneficial. I am not a very confident sewer but thanks to your pattern and instructions I feel on top of the world with the garment I have made, thank you..” Judith

“Great coatigan pattern, swift make, could be pimped to make your own style, with different trimings, thread choices. Loved it on first try on. This is the 3rd pattern I have used of yours.”  Helen

“A simple and quick pattern to make with lovely results.” Charlotte

“Clear concise instructions. One of the easiest garments I’ve made.” Angela

“I really enjoyed making the Bianca Coat. The instructions are clearly laid out, the pattern pieces fit together easily and the coat fronts have been cleverly designed to produce a lovely waterfall effect.” Janet

I hope you decide to give it a go –

you can order your Paper version HERE

or the PDF version HERE


Wardrobe Overhaul

IMG_1655It has been a while since I wrote the last post on What is MY Style?  We have done a few of the Spring Shows and launched a new pattern, as well as all the workshops that we run.

So now after a bit of time to sew for me I have gone back to trying to figure out “What is my style and what do I want to sew?”.

After looking through Pinterest and creating a My Style Board I decided to try and Spring clean my own wardrobe and see what shapes and styles were repeated and whether they bore any resemblance to what I had ‘liked’ and pinned to my board. So often we can admire things on others and wish we could wear that ourselves, but remain loyal to our ‘safe’ or comfortable way of dressing.

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Blax The Cat would not be shifted off my bed and insisted on continuing her morning ablutions!

Looking dispassionately at all of my wardrobe items this was what I concluded:

1 – Everything was pretty loose or even oversized

2 – Most of it was grey or navy in various shades

3 – There were more tunics than anything else

4 – Colour, if any, was usually in the accessories or an ‘accent’ garment.

5 – Although the shapes were simple the garments contained details to create interest.

So it pretty much matched my Pinterest board.

The next thing I asked myself was ‘Were these items what I really wanted to wear or were they ‘just things that I already had lying around?’ I then sorted those out into a pile to donate to a charity shop. If I wasn’t feeling the ‘lurve’ it was time to go!

Next I looked at putting the remaining items together into outfits. My daughter does this on a regular basis so she knows what ‘goes’ and she can style her outfits with accessories and shoes etc, before she goes out with her friends. And to be honest I do remember doing this myself as a teenage when I had more time to spend – on myself.

The upshot of this is that there is a similarity between the outfits.

I mainly wear loose boxy tops with skinny jeans, a long-line, long-sleeved T with wide leg trousers, or tunic dresses with leggings.

Basically these…

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As I have gotten older I have fuller bust now and little waist shaping, but my arms and legs are still pretty slim – so basically I’m an apple shape. Looking online at various style blogs and other ‘helpful’ sites that suggest dressing for your shape I should be “wearing V neck tops to draw the eye in and show off my ample bosom and empire line dresses to hide my tummy.”

But frankly I wouldn’t be seen dead in either of those. I just don’t feel comfortable exposing my decollate unless in an evening dress and the last time I wore an empire line dress I was asked if I was ‘expecting’!  Needless to say that person was crossed off my Christmas card list straight away! To be honest I was never one for obeying the rules.

So these are the shapes I feel most comfortable in.

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Polyvore is a brilliant resource if you’re trying out different style ideas and looking for design details to add something to a shape you know you’ll like and wear.

So now I am more sure of what shapes I know I will wear. That’s not to say that I won’t deviate and make something that totally contradicts everything I’ve just written about. But it enables me to be more mindful when I’m selecting which patterns to make and how I intend to wear them as outfits with the other elements in my wardrobe.

Have you decided on your preferred shapes and styles? Maybe your wardrobe could do with a Spring overhaul?

Let me know what works for you.

Making the Most of Your Sewing Time – Batching!

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While I have been doing a bit of sewing for myself I have been reflecting on the process of sewing and creating garments.

The process of planning can affect the outcome of your sewing project enormously and the Project Planner I created certainly helps me to prepare for any sewing projects I want to undertake.

But there are other things that can help you make the most of your sewing time and Batching is one.

Batching just means grouping a series of similar tasks together. This can save time and energy. Whether you are lucky enough to have a designated ‘Sewing Zone’ or even a specific sewing room, or if you have to clear away all your sewing paraphernalia at the end of each session, batching tasks can help you to organise your work and prevent missing out certain steps or pattern pieces.

It can also help get you into the Flow State. Without getting all geeky, the flow state is really just a totally focussed state of mind where you are completely absorbed in the task that’s occupying you. A bit like a state of meditation and to be honest that’s what I love about making and sewing stuff. It’s the total freeing of your mind of all extraneous thought apart from what you happen to be doing right now. And anything that can facilitate that gets my vote!

 

Cutting

Once you’ve planned out what you want to sew I generally find it easier to cut several items out in one session. And I make sure that I cut EVERYTHING even down to the last bit of interfacing that I’m going to need for a specific project.

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If you have planned out your sewing you will know exactly which fabrics you’re using and whether you need a contrast fabric, lining, interlining and interfacing too. I’m sure all of us have at some point suddenly remembered that we needed to apply interfacing to the back neck facing, or something similar, when we’ve reached that point in the order of work. I believe the technical term is a face-palm moment!

Each pattern, whether it’s from the Big Four or any indie pattern company,  will always have a pattern inventory and a list of which pieces you’ll need for whichever version of the pattern you’re making. This is the Pattern Inventory for our Kate Dress.

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If you need to make your own cutting list –  if you are mixing different versions and want to add the collar of one version with the sleeves of another, you can add this list to your Project Planner and then tick them off once they are cut out.

Top Tip – Make a list and check it twice!

Once all the pieces are cut out I bag them up and label them so they are ready for when I can get back to them for the next stage.

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Marking

Once all the pattern pieces are cut they need to have the pattern information transferred on to them – notches, balance marks, little dots…. They all have a purpose and will help you to match up the pattern pieces to sew your garment together accurately.

I have learnt, Dear Reader, through bitter, bitter experience that there are plenty of places to take a shortcut through the woods but this is most definitely not one of them!

Do spend time going through all the pattern pieces and marking them up accurately. It really will help your sewing go a lot more smoothly. Although it may seem more long-winded, the more preparation you can do beforehand, the easier the garment will be to make up. The method you choose is up to you – tailor’s tacks, fabric marker pen, chalk… whatever works for you.

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Top Tip – Don’t use an air erasable pen and then go off on holiday. The marks will not be there when you get back – I know this to be true!

 

Sewing

When I am creating a new pattern, before I start writing the instructions, we devise an Order of Work. This is just a bullet-pointed list of the order in which the different sewing processes take place to make up the garment. For example you would need to sew the shoulder and side seams of a bodice before you could set in the sleeve.

It helps to get a clear and logical sequence of sewing.

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However…

…most of the time instructions are written in a perfectly logical way – sew the bodice first, then the skirt, then the sleeves then the collar…..this is fine but it does mean that you will be up and down from your sewing machine pressing and sewing each stage and not necessarily making the most of the time you have.

But if we want to Batch sewing tasks to create a better flow to our sewing we can group similar processes together.

 

Look at the Order of Work for our Kate Dress

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Everything is logically ordered but there are three separate incidents for sewing binding and neatening and pressing seams !!

So if we try and group the steps by the process involved it might look a bit like this…

Kate Dress Order of Work colour coded

The different tasks have been grouped by similar process – flat sewing, neatening, pressing… etc.

Then if we re-listed the Order of Work we could achieve a better flow and be more productive.

Kate Dress Order of Work Batched

It has reduced the number of steps from 27 to 19 which means more time for sipping coffee and eating cake. It also means that you won’t be hopping up and down from sewing machine to ironing board and can do several jobs in one place before having to move work stations. And you don’t have to keep changing machine settings to sew different types of stitch.

Basically it all boils down to the fact that I think I am quite lazy so anything that can make my life simpler and more easy to manage I’m all for. You can use my Order of Work download  if you want to try streamlining your own sewing. You can then use highlighters to group certain tasks or processes together and then re-write your Order of Work to make your sewing life easier.

Maybe you do this already without really realising it? Or maybe this is a lightbulb moment for you. Let me know how you streamline your own sewing.

 

Plan to Sew

IMG_1388“I don’t get a lot of time to sew”. That might sound like a bit of an oxymoron from someone who owns a fabric shop.

But it is true.

As with most people who run their own businesses the work other people get to see is only about 20% of what actually needs to be done. The rest of the 80% of what happens is often done behind the scenes or during a late night at home on the kitchen table.

So I have to make the most of any time that I do have to sew.

In fact I had booked this week away from the shop so I can actually sew stuff for me. I knew there were certain things I needed to get done this week as a matter of course – a business doesn’t just run itself, so I made sure I designated a certain amount of time to those. But in the weeks before hand I knew that I needed to plan out exactly what I wanted to sew so that I could get as much done as I could.

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Because I usually sew a few projects in one go I like to make sure that I have everything to hand that I know I’m going to need. There is nothing worse than getting into a sewing project and finding out that you need half a metre of ¼” wide elastic – or whatever, and then have to go hunting around your sewing room or physically go shopping.

So I do make a plan. The plans I use for sewing for myself are similar to the ones I use when creating a new pattern. They contain all the information I need to make sure the project goes as smoothly as possible. You can download and print off a copy of the Project Planner to help you plan too.

I also include a bit of space on the second page to evaluate how the project went. It can be really useful to note down any tricky areas or things that you would do differently. If like me you have a few patterns that you return to time and time again it can be very helpful to remember to spend more time on a particular step to make sure you get it just right, or to miss out any steps if you don’t want to add a particular feature.

IMG_1406One of my goals this year is to try and streamline the way I work. My brain just doesn’t work in a logical linear way and I do find myself….oooh fabric!! getting distracted easily. So I find that I am looking at ‘process and systems’ more closely at the moment to see if I can find ways of increasing my efficiency.  Planning definitely helps! Once it is out of your head and on a page it’s one less thing to think about.

So I would highly recommend planning your sewing if time is limited, or even if it’s not it can just help you sew better.

Do you plan? And if so does it help? Or are you more of an impulsive sewer?